Our guide to dealing with bereavement
The steps to take
Our guide can help you manage things as smoothly and easily as possible at this difficult time.
Getting a medical certificate
If the death was expected the GP will issue a medical certificate stating the cause of death. If the death was unexpected, the GP may need to to report the death to the local coroner and it may take longer for the death certificate to be issued.
You’ll need a medical certificate to register the death, but you may be able to get an interim certificate from the coroner.
Registering the death
- Legally, a death needs to be registered within 5 days in England, Wales and Northern Island, and within 8 days in Scotland, unless the local coroner is investigating it
- You can do this at any Registrar Office but if you do it in the district where the person passed away, you’ll get the documents (death certificate) you need straight away
- You may need to make an appointment to register the death, so check your local council website for more details
- You can find full details on how to register a death at Gov.uk.
Finding the paperwork
The person may have included details about the type of funeral they wanted in their will, and it may also tell you if they've made any arrangements to pay for it. It may be with a solicitor or a family member might know where it’s kept.
If there's no will
- This is called ‘dying intestate’ and means that the deceased’s estate is likely to take longer to be wound up
- If there is anything complex in the deceased’s financial, business or family affairs, it’s a best to take advice from a solicitor experienced in probate law
- You can find a solicitor at The Law Society
- The next of kin can also apply for a grant of representation which gives them the legal right to access things like the person’s bank account and deal with the deceased’s estate (probate).
Arranging the funeral
- You can start arranging the funeral straight away. Most people pay a funeral director to organise it, but you can do it yourself
- If using a funeral director, you should get more than one quote to compare prices, as they will vary
- You can find a funeral director at the National Association of Funeral Directors or the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
- Some local councils run their own funeral services and may organise Public Health Funerals
- The Department for Work and Pension offers funeral support for those on low incomes
- Down to Earth is a charity that offers advice and help paying for a funeral to those on low incomes.
Telling organisations that need to know
- Contact the deceased's bank, mortgage lender or landlord, insurance companies, pension provider and utility companies as soon as possible
- Most councils run a service called Tell us Once, that covers most official organisations in one go. Your local registrar should tell you about this service when you register the death
- It’s also a good idea to redirect any post using a special circumstances form from Royal Mail so you can watch out for anything you might’ve missed.
Managing money when someone passes away
The Money Advice Service can help you learn how to deal with money after a death, from paying for the funeral to looking after the paperwork and household bills.